The judge presiding over the Ed O’Bannon vs. NCAA case ruled last week that at least one current athlete can be added to the list of plaintiffs in the case. While that’s not to be confused with a ruling in favor of making this a class-action case, it does suggest the plaintiffs could see at least part of the case be certified.
Whatever the result, the plaintiffs want to make sure whoever joins their cause isn’t punished. Via al.com, the lead attorney for the O’Bannon plaintiffs, Michael Hausfeld, has asked the NCAA to agree in writing to not retaliate against any current athlete who joins the case. The letter asks the NCAA to agree that “participation in this litigation by a current student athlete does not violate any NCAA rule (spanning the constitution, operating bylaws, and administrative bylaws) contained in the 2012-13 NCAA Division I manual or otherwise compromise a student athlete’s eligibility.”
(Writer’s note: No, we don’t know if it’s Johnny Manziel. Yes, that’d be awesome.)
It shouldn’t be an issue, but it is a formality. Although the NCAA issued a statement saying it hasn’t seen the letter, the association promised during the June 20 hearing it would not retaliate against any player who joins the suit.
Still, plaintiffs will need to file an amended complaint with a “John Doe” request for added protection for the athlete.
Even if the NCAA promises not to take any action against the current athlete, the player will still be open to plenty of criticism in a best-case scenario.